Show fuses raga music and painting

Show fuses raga music and painting

An exhibition at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath is an exploration of art through music

HN Suresh

The Svara-Raga-Chitra exhibition, which is to be housed at the Karnataka Chitakala Parishath, brings together art and music.

“The aim is to educate young people about classical music using a visual medium,” says  HN Suresh, director at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. There are several paintings connected to traditional forms of music. But, the art associated with
Carnatic music is lesser-known compared to its Hindustani counterparts, he says.
Suresh’s work draws inspiration from the 19th century Sritattvanidhi, as well as concepts of cosmology and astrology. He has previously worked on ideas based on the stars, the nine planets and zodiac symbols. 

What is the connection between the stars and his art? “The concept of time and space is an integral part of nature. It is also deeply embedded in music. Music depends on the gaps and frequency between two notes,” he tells Metrolife. 

The decision to use music developed by musician and scholar Dr TS Sathyavathi as an accompaniment stemmed from the need to raise awareness. “Music is able to influence emotions and evokes immediate physical reaction.”

According to him, the exhibition is a form of music therapy. It took nearly four years to make and has been developed to be as viewer-friendly as possible. Each piece also has a QR code that visitors can scan for an in-depth explanation. “We have attempted to create a narrative with a
Hindustani and Carnatic singer for each piece,” Suresh says. 

The research alone took two-and-a-half years. The primary challenge in creating and assembling the exhibition was the sheer amount of information.

“It was quite challenging to reduce the available information into a three-to-five minute track. However, the priority was to give clear explanations so young people can understand the traditions behind these art forms.” 

There were several roadblocks along the way, as well. “There were several times when I encountered missing or incomplete bits of information,” he says, owing to the nature and age of the texts he referred to during his research.

“Different texts have slightly different explanations, so the information was often contradictory. To simplify the process, I referred to concepts that were more widely agreed-upon.”

In his endeavour to help integrate the visual and performing arts, Suresh has also developed a film and a coffee-table book of the exhibition. The film is being screened simultaneously at the Chitrakala Parishath.

According to Suresh, there is a wealth of knowledge that is yet to be discovered in the traditional arts.

“There is a need for research and theory in this space before these methods can be put into practice.”

The Svara-Raga-Chitra: Singing Portraits’ is on display till March 15 at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Kurmarakrupa Road.

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